We admit our faults in order to rectify by our sincerity the wrong that those faults do us in the minds of others. We do not despise all those people who have vices, but we do dispise those people who have no virtue. The health of the soul is no more assured than the health of the body; and however much we seem to have distanced ourselves from our passions, we are in no less danger of being swept away by them than of falling ill when we are well. It seems that Nature has prescribed for each of us from birth the limits of virtue and vice. One may say that, in the course of life, our vices wait upon us like landlords in successive lodgings; and I doubt that we could avoid them even if we were permitted to travel twice down the same road.
When our vices abandon us, we flatter ourselves with the belief that we are abandoning them. There are relapses in the maladies of the soul, just as there are of the body. What we call our cure is most often only an intermission or a change of disease. The faults of the soul are like wounds in the body: no matter how much care we take to cure them, the scars always remain, always in danger of reopening. What often keeps us from abandoning ourselves to a single vice is that we have several.
We easily forget those of our faults which are known only to ourselves. There are people of whom we would never believe capable of evil without having seen it; but there are no people in whom we should be surprised to see it.
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Et quelquefois on louerait moins Monsieur le Prince et M. We glorify some people in order to detract from others. The desire to appear clever often gets in the way of becoming clever. Virtue would not go far if vanity did not keep it company. Those who think they can find enough in themselves to be able to do without everyone else are greatly deceived; but those who think that the world cannot do without them are deceived even more. Falsely upright people are those who disguise their faults from others and from themselves; truly upright people are those who know their faults and confess them.
The strictness of women is a kind of makeup by which they add to their beauty. It is a truly honorable person who is willing to be perpetually exposed to the scrutiny of other honorable people. Foolishness follows us throughout our lives. If someone seems wise, it is only because his follies are in keeping with his age and fortune. There are silly people who know themselves, and who employ their silliness skillfully. Some people are like catchy songs that you can sing only for a short while.
Most people judge others either by their fashionableness or their fortune. Love of glory, fear of shame, desire to make a fortune, the desire to make our life pleasant and agreeable, and the wish to deprecate others are often the causes of that bravery so celebrated by people. Bravery for common soldiers is a dangerous method of earning a living.
Perfect bravery and complete cowardice are two extremes that we rarely find. The space between the two is vast, and contains all types of courage. There are no fewer difference among types of courage than there are among faces and temperaments. There are men who willingly expose themselves to danger at the outset of an action but lose heart and become discouraged as it goes on. Men will freely expose themselves at the beginning of an action, and retreat and become easily discouraged if it should last. There are those who are content themselves when they satisfy public honor, but then will do little beyond that.
Some are not always equally masters of their fear. Others allow themselves to be overcome by terrors; others charge forth because they dare not remain at their posts. Some may be found whose fortitude is strengthened by small perils, and who then prepare them face greater dangers. Some will face a sword cut but fear from a musket shot; others do not dread musket shots but fear to fight with swords.
These different kinds of courage come together in that, by night, by increasing fear and concealing brave or cowardly actions, men may handle the situation. There is even a more general caution to be observed, for we meet with no man who does all he would have done if he were assured of surviving. It is certain that the fear of death does somewhat reduce valor. Perfect valor means being able to perform the same act without witnesses that one would perform in front of the whole world. Bravery is an extraordinary force that lifts the soul above troubles, disorders, and emotions which the sight of great perils can arouse in it; and it is by this force that heroes maintain their inner equilibrium and preserve the free play of their liberty even in the most adverse and terrible circumstances.
In war, most men expose themselves to danger just enough to save their honor. But few will continue to so expose themselves long enough to insure the success of the cause they are fighting for. Vanity, shame, and especially temperament often make men brave and women virtuous. We do not wish to die, and we do wish to acquire glory; this fact makes brave men more clever and thoughtful in avoiding death than crafty lawbenders do in guarding their own goods. There are few people who, on the approach of old age, do not show signs of just where their minds or bodies will eventually fail.
Gratitude is like good faith among merchants: it holds commerce together; and we pay up not because it is the right thing to do, but so that we can more easily find people to extend credit to us. All those who fulfill the duties of gratitude cannot, by doing so, pride themselves on being grateful. The imbalance of gratitude between parties derives from the fact that the pride of the giver and the pride of the receiver cannot agree on the value of the benefit conferred.
Too great an eagerness to repay an obligation is a kind of ingratitude. Fortunate people rarely correct their own faults; they always believe they are right when fortune favors their bad conduct. L'orgueil ne veut pas devoir, et l'amour-propre ne veut pas payer. The good that we receive from someone should counterbalance any harm they have done to us. Nothing is so infectious as example, and we never perform great good or great evil without inspiring similar actions. We imitate good actions by emulation, and bad ones by our evil nature, which previously shame had held prisoner, and which example now sets free.
Whatever pretext we might assign to our afflictions, it is often only vanity and self-interest that causes them. Ainsi les morts ont l'honneur des larmes qui ne coulent que pour les vivants.
In afflictions there are various kinds of hypocrisy. In one, under the pretext of bemoaning the loss of someone dear to us, we are actually weeping for ourselves; we regret the loss of the good opinion they had of us. We weep for the lessening of our store of good things, of our pleasure, of our importance. Hence the dead have the honor of tears that were never shed for the living. I say that this is a type of hypocrisy in which we deceive ourselves of the true nature of these afflictions.
There is another type of hypocrisy that is not so innocent, because it seeks to impose itself on everybody. It is the affliction of certain people who aspire to the glory of a beautiful and immortal sorrow. After time, which consumes all, obliterates what sorrow they really felt, they do not cease venting their tears, their laments, and their sighs; they were a lugubrious mask, and constantly strive, by all their actions, that their grief will only cease at their own life's end. Since their sex closes to them all roads that lead to glory, they try to achieve celebrity by acting out an inconsolable affliction.
It is more often through pride than ignorance that people are so opposed to common opinions. We find the best places already taken, and we don't want to be stuck in the last row.
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We are easily reconciled to the misfortunes of our friends when they serve to elicit our fondness for them. It seems that self-love is the fool of goodness and forgets itself when we work for the good of others. And yet it is the most certain way for self-love to arrive at its goals. It amounts to charging interest under the guise of giving. In the end, it is the way of taking in everyone by a suble and delicate manner. People should not be called good unless they have the power to be bad.
All other forms of goodness are usually only laziness or weak will. It is not as dangerous to do evil to most men as to do them too much good. Nothing flatters our pride so much as to be taken into confidence by great people, because we regard such an act as the result of our merit, without considering that it more often stems from vanity or inability to keep a secret. We can say that the quality of attraction, as distinguished from beauty, consists in a harmony about which we cannot discover any rules: a secret rapport of all traits together, traits with the colors and textures of the personality.
La coquetterie est le fond de l'humeur des femmes. Mais toutes ne la mettent pas en pratique, parce que la coquetterie de quelques-unes est retenue par la crainte ou par la raison. Flirtation is the basis of feminine temperament. But not all women flirt, because some are restrained by fear or by good sense.
We often disturb other people when we believe that we could never disturb them. Few things are impossible in themselves; what we lack is not the means but the perseverance to help us succeed. That which looks like generosity is often only a disguised ambition that scorns small interests in order to go after greater ones. That loyalty which appears in most men is only a ruse concocted by self-love to obtain trust. True eloquence consists of saying all that is necessary, and only what is necessary.
There are some people whose faults become them, and others whose virtues disgrace them. It is as usual to see changes of tastes as it is unusual to see changes in disposition. Humility is often only a feigned submission which people use to get an advantage over others. It is a device of pride by which we lower ourselves in order to raise ourselves. And though it may shift its shape a thous ways, pride is never better disguised or capable of deception as when it hides itself as humility. All feelings have their own tone of voice, gestures and expressions, and this harmony, or good or evil, agreeable or disagreeable, is what makes people pleasant or unpleasant.
In all professions everyone puts on an expression and an outward appearance so that he seems believable. Thus we see that the world is only composed of facades. Solemnity is a secrecy of the body invented to hide the flaws of the spirit. The pleasure of love is in loving; and we are happier in the passion we feel than in the passion we inspire. Civility is a desire to receive civility, and to be thought polite. The education that we provide for young people usually only inspires in them a second self-love. There is no passion in which self-love reigns so strongly as in love; and we are always more inclined to sacrifice the peace of the one we love than to lose our own.
What we call generosity is usually no more than the vanity of giving, an emotion that we love more than that which we give away. Pity is often a sense of our own misfortunes in the misfortunes of others. It is a shrewd precaution against the misforftunes that we might fall into. We assist others so that they will assist us in similar occasions, and the services we render are, properly speaking, benefits from them that we secure in advance. Pettiness of mind begets obstinacy; and in that frame of mind, we do not easily believe what we cannot see.
C'est se tromper que de croire qu'il n'y ait que les violentes passions, comme l'ambition et l'amour, qui puissent triompher des autres. We deceive ourselves if we believe that only the strong passions, such as ambition and love, can triumph over others. Laziness, as languid as she is, often becomes the mistress; she usurps all our plans an d all our acts in life, and she gradually consumes and destroys both passions and virtues. On veut trouver des coupables; et on ne veut pas se donner la peine d'examiner les crimes.
The readiness to believe the worst without sufficient examination is an effect of pride and laziness.
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We want to find the guilty parties, and we do not want to take the trouble to examine the crimes. Nothing is should be so humiliating to men who deserve great praise than the care they must take in little things to preserve their worthiness. There are people in this world of whom we approve, whose only merit is the vices they use to get along in life.
Novelty is to love is as the flower is to its fruits: it shows a luster which is easily lost and never returns. Natural goodness, which boasts of being so responsive, is often smothered by the least self-interest. Absence diminishes the lesser passions and increases the great ones, just as the wind extinguishes candles but fans a great fire. Women often believe they are in love when in reality they are not. The business of an intrigue, the emotions inspired by galantry, the natural inclination for the pleasure of being loved, and the difficulty of refusal -- all these persuade women that they feel real passion, when in fact it is nothing but coquetry.
The business of an intrigue, the emotions inspired by gallantry, the natural inclination for the pleasure of being loved, and the difficulty of refusal -- all these persuade women that they feel real passion, when in fact it is nothing but coquetry. When we exaggerate the affection that our friends have for us, it is often less out of gratitude than for a desire to have our own merit appreciated. The approbation we give to newcomers in society often arises from a secret envy of those already established. There are deceits that so accurately resemble truth that we would be bad judges if we were not deceived.
Sometimes it is no less clever to profit from good advice as it is to dispense good advice. Some evil people would be less dangerous if they had no good at all in them. Magnanimity is fairly well defined by its name; nevertheless, we could say that in a real sense it is pride, the most noble path to the reception of praise. It is impossibly to love for a second time whom we have really ceased to love. It is not so much the fertility of imagination that lets us find many ways to conduct the same affair, but rather the lack of clarity that makes us stop before every expedient and stops us from discovering on first encounter which is the best.
At some times, remedies for our affairs or our illnesses turn sour, and it is a great shrewdness to know when it is dangerous to employ them. One may say that the temperament of men, like most buildings, has diverse faces, some agreeable, others disagreeable. Moderation is incapable of fighting and subduing ambition.
Moderation is a fatigue and laziness of the soul, while ambition is activity and ardor. We always like those who admire us, and we do not always like what we admire. It is difficult for us to like those who do not respect us; but it is no less difficult to like those whom we respect much more than ourselves.
The chemical balance of our bodies have a settled regimen which imperceptibly alters our will. These elements all move together, and successively exercise a secret dominance over us and take a major part in determining our actions without out our knowing it. The gratitude of most people is only a hidden desire to receive greater favors. Almost everybody takes pleasure in returning small favors. Many people receive much gratitude for modest favors; but almost everyone is ungrateful for large ones.
Only in little matters do we usually not take the trouble of believing in appearances. Whatever good thing people have to say about us, we learn nothing new. We often pardon those people who bore us, but we cannot pardon those who find us boring. Self-interest, of which people accuse us of all our misdeeds, often should be praised as the source of our good deeds. We find few ungrateful people when we are in a position to grant favors. It is just as good to celebrate ourselves while alone as it is foolish to do so in the company of others.
We make a virtue of moderation in order to set limits on the ambition of great men, and to console ordinary people for their insignificant status and merit. Some people are fated to be fools, who do not commit foolish acts by choice, but because fortune forces them. Sometimes things happen in life that require a bit of craziness to escape. If some people have never seen folly, it is because they have not looked carefully enough.
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What enables lovers not to be bored with each other is that they talk constantly of themselves. Why is it that we have enough memory to recall the most trivial occurrences that have happened to us, but not enough memory to remind us how often we have told them to the same person? The extreme pleasure we take in talking about ourselves should make us afraid that we are not giving the same pleasure to those who listen to us.
That which usually keeps us from revealing the depths of our heart to our friends is not the distrust we have in them, but the lack of trust of ourselves. It is no great misfortune to receive ingratitude for favors we bestow, but it is unbearable to be indebted to a scoundrel. We cannot for long maintain the feelings we ought to have for our friends and benefactors if we allow ourselves the freedom of talking frequently about their faults.
To praise princes for virtues they do no possess is to insult them with impudence. We are closer to loving those who hate us than those who love us more than we wish. The only despicable people are those who are afraid of being despised. Our wisdom is just as much at the mercy of Fortune as our property.
We often console ourselves by the weakness of those evils for which reaon itself was unable to console us. We admit to lesser faults in order persuade people that we have no greater ones. Sometimes we believe that we hate flattery, but in reality we only hate the way it is done. It is more difficult to be faithful to our lover when we are happy than when we are mistreated.
Women can overcome their flirting less easily than they can overcome their passions. There are some good qualities that are live bodily senses, and those who are entirely without them can neither perceive nor understand them. When our hatred is too intense we place ourselves beneath those whom we hate. Women use their minds more to strengthen their folly than their reason. The passions of youth are no less opposed to well-being as to the tepidity of age. The accents of the place where we are born stays in our heart and mind like the accents of its language.
In order to achieve greatness, we must know how to profit from every kind of circumstance. Most people, like plants, have hidden qualities that only chance brings to light. Circumstances enable us to know others, and even more to know ourselves. If her temperament is not in equilibrium, a woman can control neither her mind nor heart. We find few people possessed of good sense unless they agree with our own opinions. What we hate so much about those who try to outwit us is that they think themselves shrewder than we are. We are almost always bored with people whom we are not allowed to be bored with.
There are some faults of character which, if well used, shine more brightly than virtue itself. Small minds are too wounded by petty things; great minds see these things, but are not injured by them. Humility is the true proof of Christian virtues. Without it, we would keep all our faults, which would be covered by pride alone, in order to hide them from others and, often, from ourselves.
Infidelities should extinguish love, and we should not be jealous even when we have cause to be. Only those people who avoid making us jealous are worthy of exciting our jealousy. We are more outraged by the smallest infidelities committed against us than by the largest we commit against others. Jealousy is always born with love, but does not always die with it. The violence that others do us often does not do as much harm as the violence that we inflict upon ourselves. We know with fair certainty that we should not talk about our wives; but we know less well that we should not talk about ourselves.
There are good character attributes that degenerate into faults when left to nature, and others that are never perfect when they are acquired. For example, reason requires us to manage our welfare and our well-being, but nature must grant us goodness and courage.
No matter how suspicious we are of those who speak to us, we always believe that they speak more truthfully to us than to others. There are few virtuous women who are not tired of playing that part. Most virtuous women are hidden treasures, safe only because no one has searched for them.
The cruelty we do to ourselves to escape falling in love is often worse than the cruelties of those whom we love. It is almost always the fault of people in love not to know when they cease to be loved. Most young people believe themselves to be without affectations, when in fact they are only rude and crude. If we believe we love a woman for her own sake, we are very much mistaken. The greatest fault of perception is not reaching its goal, but overshooting it. As our character degenerates, so also does our taste.
Different translations of this maxim, with key word highlighted:. Fortune reveals our virtues and vices, just as light reveals objects. The struggles we go through to remain faithful to the one we love are not much worthier than infidelity. Our actions are like a game of making up rhyming words, in which everyone chooses whatever match that pleases them. The urge to talk about ourselves, and to make our faults seen from our own vantage point, constitutes the greatest part of sincerity. We should only be amazed that we can still be amazed. It is difficult to be satisfied when we have either an abundance or a scarcity of love.
There are no people more in the wrong than those who cannot stand being wrong. Vanity, even if it does not entirely cancel out virtue, at least disrupts it. What makes the vanity of others insufferable is that it wounds our own.
Poodle Lit. pre-1929
Fortune never seems so blind as to those who have never received her gifts. We must manage our fortune like we manage our health: enjoy it when it is good, bear it patiently when it is bad, and never resort to drastic remedies unless there is extreme need. Middle class values sometimes wear off in the army, but never at court. We can be more clever than another person, but not more clever than all other people. We keep our first lover for a long time, provided we do not take a second one.
In general, we lack the courage to assert that we have no bad qualities, and that our enemies have no good ones; but in fact we are not far from believing so. Of all our faults, the one that we live with most easily is laziness. We convince ourselves that it stems from the gentler virtues that that, without entirely destroying the others, it merely suspends their operations. There is merit without greatness, but there is no greatness without merit. Social prominence [celebrity] is to merit what finery is to good-looking people.
Sometime fortune uses our faults to distinguish us; and there are some tiresome people whose merits would go unrewarded if we did not want to get rid of them. It seems as though nature has hidden deep in our characters talents and abilities which we are unaware of; only the passions have the power to draw them out, and sometimes give us a clearer and more complete vision than art could ever achieve.
We arrive as newcomers to the various stages of life, and we often lack sufficient experience in spite of the number of our years. Coquettes pride themselves on being jealous of their admirers in order to hide the fact that they are envious of other women. The most dangerous folly of old people who were once attractive is to forget that they are no longer so. We should often be ashamed of our best acts if people could see the motives that produced them.
The hardest task of friendship is not to show our faults to our friends but to make them see their own. Most of our faults are more pardonable than we means we use to hide them. Whatever shame we have brought upon ourselves, it is almost always within our power to re-establish our reputation. Young women who do not want to be seen as flirts, and old men who don not want to be seen as fools, should never speak of love as something they want to take part in.
We may seem great in a post beneath our ability, but we often seem little in a post above it. We often believe we show constancy in the face of misfortune, when in fact we are only dejected, and dare not face our troubles, much as cowards let themselves be killed because they are afraid to defend themselves. Toutes les passions nous font faire des fautes, mais l'amour nous en fait faire de plus ridicules. All passions make us commit mistakes, but love makes us commit the most foolish ones.
We credit ourselves with faults opposed to those we actually possess: so when we are weak we boast of our stubbornness. Insight has the aura of prophecy, and thus flatters our vanity more than any other faculties of the mind. The charm of both novelty and old custom, however opposite to each other, equally prevent us from perceiving the faults of our friends.
Most friends disgust us with friendship, and most pious people disgust us with piety. We easily pardon in our friends those faults that do not concern us. Women who love pardon great indiscretions more easily than little infidelities. In old age of love as in life, we still live through the evils, but no longer live for the pleasures.
Nothing prevents us it from being natural as the desire to appear natural. To praise notable deeds heartily is in a sense to take part in them. The truest sign of being born with great qualities is to be born without envy. When our friends have deceived us we owe them nothing but indifference to their professions of friendship, but we should still be sensible to their troubles. It is easier to understand Man in general than to understand one man in particuliar. We should not judge people's worth by their great potential, but by the use they make of it.
There is a certain kind of lively gratitude which not only pays our debt for benefits received, but which also puts our friends in our debt even when we pay them their due. We would yearn for very few things if we clearly understood what we wanted. Most women are little attracted to friendship because it pales in comparison to the attraction of love. In friendship, as in love, we are often happier because of the things we do not know rather than because of those we know. We try to make honorable those faults that we do not wish to correct.
Sometimes the most violent passions let us relax, but vanity keeps us perpetually agitated. What makes the pains of shame and jealousy so severe is that vanity cannot help us to endure them. Propriety is the least important of all laws, but one most followed.
Un esprit droit a moins de peine de se soumettre aux esprits de travers que de les conduire. When fortune surprises us and raises us to high position without having led us there by degrees, or without our having aspired to such a position in our hopes, it is almost impossible to hold the position securely and appear worthy of filling it. Our pride often increases on what we excise from our other faults. Il n'y a point de sots si incommodes que ceux qui ont de l'esprit. No one thinks each of his own qualities beneath those of the man he most respects. In matters of great importance a man should not so much try to make opportunities as totake advantage of those that present themselves..
There are few occasions in which we would make a bad bargain if we gave up the good said of us on the condition that no evil were said of us. However disposed the world may be to misjudge, it is nevertheless favors false merit even more than it is unjust to true merit. On est quelquefois un sot avec de l'esprit, mais on ne l'est jamais avec du jugement.
There are sometimes fools with brains, but never fools with good judgment. It would profit us more to let ourselves be seen as we are, rather than to try to appear what we are not. Our enemies are closer to the truth in their opinion of us than we are ourselves. Il s'en faut bien que nous connaissions tout ce que nos passions nous font faire. Old age is a tyrant who forbids, on pain of death, all the pleasures of youth. The same pride which makes us blame faults from which we believe ourselves exempt causes us to dispise the good qualities we do not have.
There is often more pride than goodness in our pity for our enemies' troubles; it is to show them how superior we are to them, that we give them the expressions of our compassion. There exists an excess of good and evil which surpasses our sensibilities.
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Il s'en faut bien que l'innocence ne trouve autant de protection que le crime. De toutes les passions violentes, celle qui sied le moins mal aux femmes, c'est l'amour. Of all the violent passions the one that befits a woman best is love. On ne souhaite jamais ardemment ce qu'on ne souhaite que par raison. All our qualities are uncertain and doubtful, both the good as well as the bad, and nearly all are at the mercy of circumstances.
Pride, like other passions, has its quirks,; we are ashamed to confess we are jealous, and yet we pride ourselves on having been so and on being capable of being so. Desire for pity or admiration is usually our main motive for confiding in others. Notre envie dure toujours plus longtemps que le bonheur de ceux que nous envions. The same firmness of character which helps a person to fight against falling in love also makes that love more violent and long-lasting, whereas weak people who are constantly agitated by passions are almost never really possessed by them.
Imagination could not invent as many contradictions as nature has placed into the heart of every person. It is only people of firm character who can possess real gentleness; those who appear gentle are usually only weak, which easily turns into acrimony. Shyness is a character flaw which it dangerous to censure in those people whom we wish to cure. Nothing is more uncommon than true goodness; those people who think they possess that quality are usually only either complaisant or weak.
Because of laziness and inertia, our mind occupies itself with what is easy or agreeable. This habit sets limits to our understanding, and no one has ever taken the trouble to stretch his mind as far as it might go. We are ordinarily more slanderous out of vanity than out of malice. When the heart is still agitated by the remains of a passion, it is more likely to take on a new one than when we are completely cured of the old. Those people who have known profound massions find that they are both happy and unhappy that they are cured.
There are still more people free from self interest than from envy. Nous avons plus de paresse dans l'esprit que dans le corps. The calmness or agitation of our moods does not depend smooch on the great events of our lives as on the sequence of disagreeable or petty things that happen to us daily.
However evil some men are, they dare not appear as enemies of virtue, and so when they want to persecute it they pretend t believe that virtue is false or the cause of crimes. We often pass from love to ambition, but rarely to we return from ambition to love. Extreme avarice almost makes mistakes; no passion more frequently misses its goal, nor one over which the present has so much power, to the detriment of the future.
It seems that people feel that they do not possess enough failings, and so they increase them with some strange new qualities by which they affect to give themselves airs. These new traits such people cultivate with so much care that in the end those qualities become deep-rooted faults which they cannot get rid of. The proof that people now their own flaws better than you might think is that they never fall int error when discussing their own conduct: the same self-love that ordinary blinds them now clearly appears before their eyes, and gives them such an accurate vision that the suppress or disguise the slightest things that might be condemned.
Young people entering into society should be either bashful or giddy; an air of competence or self-assurance usually appears as impertinence. It is useless to be young without good looks, or to be good-looking without youth. Some people are such frivolous lightweights that they are as far from having real faults as they are from having solid virtues. Usually we take no notice of a woman's first amorous adventure until she has entered into her second.
There are some people so full of themselves that when they are in love, they are more obsessed with their own passion than with the feelings of the person they love. Love, agreeable as it is, please even more in the ways it shows itself. Those people with little sense are less annoying than people with much sense but a contrary disposition.
Jealousy is the greatest of evils, and excites the least pity in those who are the cause of it. Mais on ne doit pas croire aussi qu'ils soient infaillibles. Caton et Brutus en choisirent d'illustres. Thus having treated of the hollowness of so many apparent virtues, it is but just to say something on the hollowness of the contempt for death. I allude to that contempt of death which the heathen boasted they derived from their unaided understanding, without the hope of a future state.
There is a difference between meeting death with courage and despising it. The first is common enough, the last I think always feigned. Yet everything that could be has been written to persuade us that death is no evil, and the weakest of men, equally with the bravest, have given many noble examples on which to found such an opinion, still I do not think that any man of good sense has ever yet believed in it.
And the pains we take to persuade others as well as ourselves amply show that the task is far from easy. For many reasons we may be disgusted with life, but for none may we despise it. Not even those who commit suicide regard it as a light matter, and are as much alarmed and startled as the rest of the world if death meets them in a different way than the one they have selected.
The difference we observe in the courage of so great a number of brave men, is from meeting death in a way different from what they imagined, when it shows itself nearer at one time than at another. Thus it ultimately happens that having despised death when they were ignorant of it, they dread it when they become acquainted with it. If we could avoid seeing it with all its surroundings, we might perhaps believe that it was not the greatest of evils.
The wisest and bravest are those who take the best means to avoid reflecting on it, as every man who sees it in its real light regards it as dreadful. The necessity of dying created all the constancy of philosophers. They thought it but right to go with a good grace when they could not avoid going, and being unable to prolong their lives indefinitely, nothing remained but to build an immortal reputation, and to save from the general wreck all that could be saved. To put a good face upon it, let it suffice, not to say all that we think to ourselves, but rely more on our nature than on our fallible reason, which might make us think we could approach death with indifference.
The glory of dying with courage, the hope of being regretted, the desire to leave behind us a good reputation, the assurance of being enfranchised from the miseries of life and being no longer dependent on the wiles of fortune, are resources which should not be passed over. But we must not regard them as infallible. They should affect us in the same proportion as a single shelter affects those who in war storm a fortress.
At a distance they think it may afford cover, but when near they find it only a feeble protection. Kurkov uses a light and well-paced narrative style in this great novel according to the French aadio station, France Inter. Andrey Kurkov was born in into a communist family. He has lived in Kiev since his childhood. At age ten, the author started collecting cactuses and developed a passion for foreign languages when memorising their Latin names. He now speaks nine languages.
During his military service, he served as a prison guard in Odessa. His first novel was published in Kiev in , two weeks before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He had borrowed money in order to publish this book, had purchased the paper himself, had controlled its impression and sold 75, copies of it himself Two years later, he managed to publish two more books in the newly independent Ukraine. The same year, in , Le Monde de Bickford for the French edition was short listed for best Russian novel. He published several more novels in which he described the condition of the post-Soviet world, its mafias and grotesque aberrations Kurkov became internationally famous after the publication in the year of his novel Le Pingouin Liana Levi - for the French edition.
It has been translated into thirty languages. Synopsis of the French edition of Laitier de nuit. But one thing is known at least, how it all started.